Adopt Strong Grip for Power, Accuracy
By Kim Jeong-kyoo
Korea Times Golf Columnist
With a neutral grip it is impossible to hit the ball far and straight on an accurate basis unless you hinge on the backswing, unhinge through impact and rehinge immediately after impact.
However, hinging and unhinging your wrists make it hard to timely release the club and return hands to their address position at impact so the clubface is square through the ball.
Worse yet, recreational golfers are apt to fail to cross their right forearm over the left through the ball, thus failing to hit the ball powerfully. They tend to produce weak shots that curve to the right.
To prevent these two problems you need to start with a strong grip. It encourages your hands to make a stronger move to close the clubface faster through impact, promoting straighter, longer shots or even a little right-to-left draw.
Better yet, a strong grip helps improve accuracy as you don't have to rely on your hands and wrists to gain extra distance.
To gain more distance you need to release the club by rotating your right forearm over the left through the ball or by unhinging your wrists at impact. However, a strong grip presets the clubface in a released position, making it unnecessary to cross over your forearms through impact, thus promoting consistency.
Also, a strong grip eliminates left-to-right sidespin, helping you stop coming over the top on the downswing.
For a strong grip sole the club on the ground with your arms hanging comfortably from the shoulders. Place your left hand so its heel pad is on top of the club with your thumb slightly right of the center of the handle of the club. The back of your left hand needs to be aimed between the target and the sky about 45 degrees.
Now, hold the club mostly with your fingers and position your right hand so your palm faces the target. Be sure your left thumb fits comfortably between your right thumb-pad and heel-pad.
Once you've gripped properly, all you have to do to hit the ball solidly is to swing the club on the correct path and a good way to do this is to let your waggle serve as a mini-rehearsal of the ideal swing.
You will waggle somewhat softly and slowly when a soft shot is needed. As you imagine the shot, your instinct will immediately take over. Similarly, for a big drive, you will waggle briskly and with more speed.
So, just let your instinct control the speed of your waggle and swing the club back at the speed you waggled it.
During the waggle, adjust yourself so you can hit the ball toward the target and the clubhead goes back along the ball-target line and then returns to the ball on a line slightly inside of the path it took on the back waggle. That way you can swing the clubhead toward the target on a path that is low to the ground.
Waggle the club back only slightly so that its sole stays below the top of the ball. That makes it easier to attack the ball on a path that is low to the ground, which is the only sure-fire way to hit the ball flush on a consistent basis. For a solid impact you need to hit the ball from behind it, not from above it. That also enables you to make shallow divots ideally resembling a 10,000 won bill.
A common swing fault committed by the recreational golfers is swinging the club down on an outside-to-in path or rather from above the ball. This swing fault can result from misusing the left shoulder in the transition from backswing to downswing.
Incorrectly initiating the downswing by quickly spinning the left shoulder open to the target forces the hands to move out and away from the body, causing the head to drag toward the target ahead of the ball. That forces the club to approach the ball from outside the ball-target line, resulting in pulls and slices.
Allowing your head to move past the ball toward the target also causes a sharp descending blow, bringing about chunked iron shots and popped-up drives.
To cure an outside-to-in path on the downswing or rather to stop coming from above the ball, you need to move your left shoulder correctly; a good way to do this properly is to begin the downswing with a slight bump of the left hip toward the target.
That lets your shoulders stay turned at the early stage of the downswing, allowing the arms and hands to drop close to the body instead of moving out and away from the body. Pulls and slices will be eliminated as you will be in a position to swing the club through the ball from the inside.
A slight bump of the left hip toward the target also keeps your back pointed at the target in the early part of the downswing, which not only prevents your head from moving in front of the ball, but also promotes a shallower angle of attack. That way you will make long, shallow divots with the irons, hitting driver on the sweetspot of the clubface with a level or slightly upward swing.